Keshubhai fails to inspire voters to rise against Modi

Last Updated: Thu, Dec 20, 2012 15:26 hrs
Modi set to tame Keshubhai challenge?

Gujarat Assembly poll results have shown that former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who formed a new political outfit (GPP) just before the elections, with the only aim to dislodge his bete noire Narendra Modi, has failed to inspire voters in his own Saurashtra region, which more or less tilted towards the BJP.

The Gujarat Parivartan Party, which fielded 163 candidates, but only Keshubhai Patel from Visavadar in Junagadh, and Nalin Kotadia from Dhari in Amreli) succeeded to win, failing to put up a stiff challenge to Modi and BJP.

Even Gordhan Zadafia, who was Minister of State for Home in BJP government in 2002, and was said to be the force behind the large scale efforts to mobilise people of Saurashtra behind the 84-year-old veteran, lost from Gondal constituency by 19,766 votes to BJP candidate Jayrajsinh Jadeja.

During more than two months of sustained campaigning, Keshubhai and his party leaders expressed confidence of winning as many seats in Gujarat, laying claim to be the deciding force for the next government in the state, if not form the government.

Even political pundits were predicting a large scale dent into BJP prospects in the Saurashtra belt, where Keshubhai's Leuva Patel community holds sway, but it was virtually a no-show for the fledgling party.

As far as the seat count is concerned, compared to the 2007 Assembly elections, voters of Saurashtra did not pay heed to the appeals of Keshubhai, who led a vitriolic campaign to defeat Modi.

In 2007, before the implementation of de-limitation of the constituencies in the state, out of 52 seats in seven districts of Saurashtra, BJP had won 39 seats, while Congress had won 12 and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had secured one seat.

This time, out of 48 seats, spread across seven districts of Saurashtra, BJP has won 32, Congress has garnered 13, GPP got 2 and NCP has won one seat.

In Surat, where GPP was expected to perform well because of many small businesses and diamond traders having family roots in Saurashtra, the party has failed miserably with all its candidates losing mandate.

Modi raises national pitch in victory speech

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi declared on Thursday that his hat-trick of an election win held a national message and that he was serving "Mother India" besides his own state.

Addressing thousands of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters in his Maninagar constituency, the 62-year-old politician repeatedly appealed to the Gujarati pride of the voters but curiously chose to speak in Hindi.

The BJP's victory, he said, was "a victory for every Indian, whether they are in Assam or Kerala or Jammu and Kashmir".

Modi pointedly pretended not to hear the chorus in the gathering for his elevation as India's prime minister as the crowds chanted "PM, PM, PM, PM, PM..." towards the end of his speech.

Modi, however, ridiculed the Congress victory in Himachal Pradesh as well as political pundits who he said had failed to understand the pulse of the Gujarat electorate.

"Development won today," he thundered, repeatedly drawing cheers and wild clapping. "There was a thinking in our politics that good economics is bad politics. It was as if good governance did not suit our politics."

He quickly added that the people of the country too needed good governance and economic development of the kind seen in Gujarat.

"I seek your forgiveness if there has been drawbacks, mistakes (in my administration)," said Modi, who came to power in Gujarat in late 2001 and whose early reign was marked by the 2002 communal orgy.

"Give me your blessings so that we don't make any mistake (again)." And he added: "Even by mistake, we should not do any wrong to anyone."

After leading the BJP to a third-time win in assembly elections, Modi drove to his meet his aged mother and, surprisingly, his predecessor and political foe Keshubhai Patel -- whose feet he touched in reverence.

"I don't consider anyone my enemy in democracy," he said in his speech.

Besides defeating the Congress, Modi's sweeping win also punctured former BJP chief minister Patel's Gujarat Parivartan Party which was left gasping with just two seats.

The chief minister made fun of critics who harped on his inability to bag a two-thirds majority or breach the 117 seat tally of 2007.

"Victory is victory... Even if we had won 93 seats, we would have taken our oath (of office)... But they (political pundits) are not interested in this simple arithmetic."

In an apparent response to media projections that Modi had grown taller than the BJP, he said: "The party is our mother. It is under her guidance that we grow. Whatever we are, it is because of the party. If there is no party, we are nowhere."

Modi said even as he was awaiting final election results, he listened to "senior pundits" on TV debates.

"I was stunned. They are not able to digest the Gujarat victory even now. I wonder if they will be able to sleep tonight!"

The BJP veteran said the people of Gujarat had risen above caste and other divides to give him another five-year mandate.

"I salute the voters of Gujarat for rejecting all greed and lies."

Centre getting ready for Modi's visit on Thursday

Fresh from his Gujarat victory, Modi is expected to have his first encounter with the Centre next Thursday when country's apex planning body National Development Council meets to approve 12th Plan.

Modi has in the past never lost an opportunity to take on Planning Commission and Centre on various issues and has often complained about step-motherly treatment meted out to his state.

With Modi's win, official sources said, the Centre is gearing up to counter him in the NDC meeting scheduled on December 27, when the Gujarat Chief Minister will be here on his first visit after the elections.

Though there is no official confirmation to the Commission so far on Modi attending the NDC meeting, he has never missed such consultations.

'Gujarat win enthuses BJP cadre in Karnataka'

Karnataka's BJP Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Thursday said the party's victory in Gujarat assembly polls has enthused its cadre in his state where assembly polls are due in less than six months.

"The BJP cadres across the country, especially in states like Karnataka which are going to the polls shortly, are enthused by the victory of BJP in Gujarat," he said in a statement here.

India Inc hails Modi victory in Gujarat election

Industry leaders Thursday hailed the sweeping victory of Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Gujarat assembly elections saying it will further boost the flow of investments into the state.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president Adi Godrej said Modi's being in office again would further boost investors' confidence in the state and provide political stability.

"The stability in the state would enhance confidence of the industry and herald new investments. CII has been working closely with the state government and looks forward to continuing its engagement with it for Gujarat's progress," Godrej said.

"Modi's hat trick victory is a resounding endorsement of his leadership and his success in economic development in Gujarat," said Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairman and managing director of Biocon Limited.

"Yes, Modi has delivered on a basic inclusive development agenda that goes beyond Roti Kapada Makan - education and healthcare," Shaw said on the micro-blogging site twitter.

Narendra Modi has emerged as a poster boy of India Inc due to his industry-friendly policies and no nonsense attitude while doing business. Several corporate giants including the Tata Group, Reliance and Maruti Suzuki have invested heavily in Gujarat during his rule, which spans over a decade.

Referring to the BJP's opposition to allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail, Shaw said: "Modi has to toe the party line but I'm sure he personally favours FDI in retail."

"Gujarat has voted for development," said Rajkumar Dhoot, president, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham).

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